Trauma Therapy

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How Does Trauma Therapy Help Those Suffering From Addiction?

Addiction and trauma therapy go hand in hand, as so many drug abusers have some traumatic experience in their lives that led to their substance abuse. Trauma comes in many shapes and sizes, and not all will lead to substance abuse. The nature of trauma, however, leads many people to self-medicate to relieve the symptoms they might feel.

Trauma can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and fear in certain situations or anxiety. They might also suffer from insomnia, depression, or suffer from eating disorders. Due to these symptoms and many more, trauma patients often turn to substance abuse.

Patients could use exposure therapy practices alongside coping skill development and emotional regulation. Patients learn how to structure their cognitive abilities, think differently about their trauma, and begin the path of acceptance and recovery.

Trauma Can Lead to Substance Addiction

These symptoms can lead to addiction, and trauma treatment is one way to solve the initial problem.

Soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are at a greater risk of succumbing to drug or alcohol abuse because of the trauma.

Developing treatment for the trauma alongside traditional treatment for substance abuse disorder, has shown to improve a patient’s performance and recovery time. By dealing with the issue that led to substance abuse, trauma therapy can help minimize relapses and help a full recovery.

Addiction and Trauma Treatment Plans

Trauma treatment plans include grief and loss counselling, peer or individual support groups, and group therapy sessions. It may also include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, which includes medication to decrease symptoms, or an array of holistic treatment practices.

Patients could use exposure therapy practices alongside coping skill development and emotional regulation. Patients learn how to structure their cognitive abilities, think differently about their trauma, and begin the path of acceptance and recovery.

Three Steps to Addiction and Trauma Treatment

Step 1: Recognize and understand the trauma victims’ opinions,  give respect to the patient and information, and an optimistic view of their recovery.

Step 2: Learn what connects their trauma to their substance abuse and the triggers, emotions and resulting behaviors related to the connection.

Step 3: Work alongside other treatments, agencies, friends and families of the trauma survivor in order to empower them and create a lasting recovery.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lay out 6 principles of good trauma treatment.

  1. A safe environment
  2. Peer support groups
  3. Collaboration with family, friends or groups
  4. Empowerment, voice, and choice.
  5. Cultural, Historical, and Gender-related issues.
  6. The lesson that addiction blocks you from healing trauma

Types of Trauma Requiring Treatment

Patients may suffer from PTSD, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence or bullying. They may have gone through a natural disaster, or the death of a loved one. Child and partner deaths are especially painful and traumatic and would benefit from trauma treatment.

Rape victims, robbery and muggings, and attacks of any kind can lead to trauma. People can also suffer relationship trauma from divorce or breakups.

Physical Symptoms of Trauma

There are many physical symptoms someone might display if they have trauma in their lives that’s not been resolved. They may have nightmares or insomnia, or have headaches, muscle pain, or consistent body tension.

These symptoms often lead to self-medicating, which can be the start of addiction. The best start in the healing process is to work on the original trauma.

Four Phases Of Trauma Healing

Once a user that is suffering from addiction and trauma treatment has been considered, there are four phases of healing a person would go through during their trauma therapy.

Phase 1: Grounding & Safe Space

The first phase of trauma therapy will establish trust and safety for the individual. This allows them to come from a safe space where they can share without judgment or shame. This phase also helps the person learn to trust themselves and feel safer in the world around them.

Phase 2: Changing Belief Systems

Every trauma patient has a set of beliefs that started from the trauma and continued later on in life. As the trauma stays unresolved, those irrational thoughts lead to emotional reactions, anxiety, depression and fear among others. This part of the process begins to change those belief systems so they can learn about their trauma in a new way and start to resolve the issues. 

Phase 3: Reconnection & Transition

In this phase, the patient has already begun to see mental change from their addiction and their outlook on life starts  to shift. This phase takes those foundational steps and plays upon them with more challenges, role-plays and practicing new mental skills. Patients can learn more about the triggers that relate to their  trauma and they develop a management system to deal with those triggers.

Phase 4: Preparing For The Fututre

The last phase someone might experience if they are going through addiction and trauma treatment is the preparation for their future. They may learn and practice new life skills, relationship development and management, and a full understanding of their triggers so they can be managed effectively. They will learn how to prepare for the unexpected and know the mental processes to deal with them as they arise.

Trauma Patient Avoidance

Patients who suffer from trauma often deny the trauma even took place. They suffer from such great shame and embarrassment, and they may choose to block it out. They could feel guilt in regards to feeling responsible and to blame for the trauma itself.

Patients often believe that asking for help or getting care is a sign of weakness. It would also be admitting the problem, and they feel like if they do that, they won’t be able to manage the anxiety that comes with it.

Therefore, trauma patients often self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, leading to an addiction instead of a true recovery.

Unresolved Trauma

Patients with unresolved trauma often have extreme reactions, or a numbness to the events. They blame others, have anger issues, and may attempt suicide or self-harm. They make the same repeated mistakes and go into circular behavior patterns.

If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event and this has led to substance abuse, then reach out to us. Learning how to cope with and manage trauma will train a patient to deal with the emotional pain without self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Addiction and trauma combined can be a complex issue, and we recommend reaching out to us for treatment options in order to have the best chance of recovery.

Drug Rehab in Atlanta

Buckhead Behavioral Health is a luxury addiction treatment facility and drug rehab in Atlanta, Georgia. Offering individualized treatment, the multidisciplinary staff at Buckhead Behavioral Health offers evidence-based practices to help individuals recover from addiction in a safe and structured setting free from distractions. Learn more about our admission process and begin the road to recovery now..

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